Metro Transit is extending its money-back guarantee to Northstar riders through February, the transit agency announced Thursday.

The Northstar Service Guarantee program promised refunds to customers during the month of January if trains arrived at the station 11 or more minutes late. As of Thursday afternoon, riders on five runs qualified for refunds.

Those included two southbound runs from Big Lake to Target Field in Minneapolis on Jan. 9 and two northbound runs to Big Lake on the same day. The delays ranging from 13 to 25 minutes were attributed to track maintenance and switching issues. One southbound trip from Big Lake to downtown Minneapolis on Jan. 19 was 13 minutes late due to a mechanical issue.

Overall, about 98 percent of the 250 runs in January arrived on time, said spokesman Howie Padilla.
It was not clear how many riders will get refunds, which will be sent out in February. Only riders who had registered for the program and used an electronic card to pay their $3 to $6 fare are eligible. So far about 700 riders have registered for the program.

The program was rolled out as a pilot in January after ridership dipped in 2014 due to scores of late trains caused by repeated mechanical issues and track maintenance. Northstar’s 2014 performance through October, showed that trains were on schedule only 65.7 percent of the time, and through November ridership was 670,907, a dip of 10 percent from 2013.

“We are taking the step of extending the customer guarantee program to prove to our commuters and others that this is a reliable way to go,” Padilla said. “This program is not only about money. We are telling riders who left us or have yet to try us to give us a chance.”

Padilla said he believes Northstar has picked up approximately 60 riders over the past few weeks.

Customers can still register for the refund program at www.metrotransit.org/northstar.

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